THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Don’t defund new Law and Order

OKAY, WE ALL HAVE HEROES. I, for one, love Sam Waterston, who is reprising his role on Law and Order. He once told me not to despair because, “There is life after Law and Order.” He was wrong and this return of the program proves it. This is something you seldom see—a show coming back to life after having been pronounced dead. Every once in a while, there is something so good on television that it defies the generally poor quality of the genre. Law and Order is one such program. It is so good that you can watch the episodes over and over again. I know that I do and my bet is that you do, too.

Now 81-year old Waterston is reprising his role as the fighting DA, Jack McCoy. The way he appears on television is the way he is in real life. See, the thing about Sam is that he is a very decent fellow. I have had my chance to get know him and he is just who he seems to be. He’s interested in politics, not from the left or the right but from the middle. I once asked him in front of an audience which of his female assistant DA’s he found most attractive. He brought down the house by asking me what I was trying to do to him since his wife was in the audience.

Some wise guy put a sign up on my office door that reads “Jack McCoy for President.” When we last left Jack, he was running for a full term as DA. He was actually a great DA, unlike the schlemiel who is currently disgracing the job in Manhattan. Let there be no mistake—it is not easy to be a DA. We saw that in real time as two of the New York DA’s top assistants walked out on DA Alvin Bragg, who is not exactly distinguishing himself in his job. They had been working on the case involving Donald Trump a long time and their departure was a real slap in the face for the current DA who somehow got himself elected.

Law and Order, as we know, bills itself as “…ripped from the headlines,” even though the disclaimers in small print will deny that. If you have watched the program and paid attention to what was going on in the world, you’ll have seen that it occasionally does get a little too close for comfort. The plots of several Law and Order episodes bore a close resemblance to the mess that Eliot Spitzer made for himself. I recall one episode where the story echoed the travails of a real-life judge who’d been in the news. Maybe those kinds of scandals are universal. My bet is that is what is happening to Andrew Cuomo right now will show up on Law and Order in the not too distant future.

Let’s face it—a lot of what we know about the criminal justice system comes from the program. Sure, some of it is contrived. You can usually predict that when the subject involves suing the government or the army, the DA’s case won’t prevail. Not realistic. You can see the tension between the police and the prosecutors. If the police screw up a search or deprive someone of their rights, it can be hell on the DA’s team.

With the uptick in crime in the country, you had better believe that there has been a reversal in the public’s priorities. It hasn’t even been that long since people were screaming to defund the police. But we have seen that the self-styled liberals in the legislature turning tail and running as fast as their legs will carry them. I’m glad that Sam is back. I think you’ll see our contemporary law and order system may have turned a corner.

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